One of Arbery’s killers moved to medical prison in Georgia

Gregory McMichael, one of 3 convicted of murder, began life prison sentence in August

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – One of the men convicted of chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery in a Georgia neighborhood in 2020 has been moved to a medical prison, according to Georgia Department of Corrections records.

Gregory McMichael, who was sentenced to life in prison along with his son, Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, was initially taken to a state prison in Jackson in August.

The Georgia DOC now shows him in Augusta State Medical Prison, which is about 3½ hours north of Brunswick. It’s unclear when or why he was moved, and his attorney declined to comment Tuesday.

The facility has a hospital, surgery center and specialized mental health treatment units.

A former medical director at Augusta State Medical Prison at one time raised concerns about unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the facility, and McMichael’s attorney cited conditions in Georgia prisons as one of the reasons his client should not be sent to a Georgia state prison until an ongoing Department of Justice investigation is completed.

Citing the 66-year-old’s history of stroke, heart disease, anxiety and depression, the attorney pointed to concerns about Georgia prisons’ poor conditions, inadequate medical and psychiatric care, and failure to protect inmates.

The judge denied the request from McMichael’s attorney.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports a former doctor at Augusta State Medical Prison received a $300,000 settlement from the state last year after alleging retaliation for blowing the whistle on poor conditions at the prison. The AJC reports the state did not admit any wrongdoing in that case.

News4JAX has reached out to the Department of Corrections for comment.

The others convicted in Arbery’s death are still housed at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison, where Gregory Michael was previously housed.

The McMichaels each received a second life prison sentence for committing federal hate crimes. Bryan, who recorded cellphone video of the slaying, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on the federal charges.

The McMichaels had earlier been sentenced to life without parole in state court for Arbery’s murder and had asked the judge to divert them to a federal prison to serve their sentences, saying they were worried about their safety in the state prison system. Bryan had sought to serve his federal sentence first. The judge declined all three requests.

A federal jury convicted the McMichaels and Bryan of violating Arbery’s civil rights, concluding they targeted him because of his race. All three were also found guilty of attempted kidnapping, and the McMichaels were convicted of using guns in the commission of a violent crime.

The McMichaels armed themselves with guns and used a pickup truck to chase Arbery after he ran past their home on Feb. 23, 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun. The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a burglar, but investigators determined he was unarmed and had committed no crimes.

“I’m very thankful,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told reporters outside the courthouse after all three sentences had been imposed. “It’s been a long fight. I’m so thankful God gave us the strength to continue to fight.”

In giving Bryan a lower sentence, the judge noted he had not brought a gun to the pursuit of Arbery and preserved his cellphone video, which was crucial to the prosecutions.

During the hate crimes trial, prosecutors fortified their case that Arbery’s killing was motivated by racism by showing the jury roughly two dozen text messages and social media posts in which Travis McMichael and Bryan used racist slurs and made disparaging comments about Black people.

Prosecutor Christopher Perras said the trial evidence proved "what so many people felt in their hearts when they watched the video of Ahmaud’s tragic and unnecessary death: This would have never happened if he had been white.”

A state Superior Court judge imposed life sentences for the McMichaels and Bryan for Arbery’s murder, with both McMichaels denied any chance of parole.

Because they were first charged and convicted of murder in a state court, they were turned over to the Georgia Department of Corrections to serve their life terms in state prison.

About the Authors: